Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 733–742

The spoiled pleasure of giving in to temptation


    • Booth School of BusinessUniversity of Chicago
  • Hiroki Kotabe
    • Booth School of BusinessUniversity of Chicago
  • Maike Luhmann
    • University of Illinois at Chicago
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11031-013-9355-4

Cite this article as:
Hofmann, W., Kotabe, H. & Luhmann, M. Motiv Emot (2013) 37: 733. doi:10.1007/s11031-013-9355-4


Satisfying one’s desires is typically a pleasurable experience and thus a source of momentary happiness. Getting happy in the here and now, however, may be more complicated when people yield to temptations—desires that conflict with personal self-regulatory goals so that they have reason to resist them. Using data from a large experience sampling study on everyday desire, we show that people receive considerably smaller gains in momentary happiness from enacting tempting as compared to nontempting desires. We further demonstrate that this “spoiled pleasure” effect can largely be explained by self-conscious emotions, as statistically accounting for guilt, pride, and regret as mediators reduced the observed hedonic gap to nonsignificance. The present findings challenge the assumption that the costs associated with temptation lie only in the future.


Self-controlTemptationHappinessWell-beingSelf-conscious emotions

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013